Lancer Spotlight: FCC night classes offer Blockinger a pulse-ible way to study nursing


courtesy of Chris Blockinger

Erica Blockinger practices checking blood pressure on her dog, Bear.

by Emily McNally, Managing Editor

Imagine your dream of getting into the medical field and COVID strikes, leaving you to figure out how to accomplish your dream during a nationwide pandemic. Erica Blockinger dealt with something similar to this.

Blockinger has always wanted to become a nurse. She is in the FCC program that will culminate with a CNA (certified nursing assistant), which will allow her to work mostly in nursing homes and some hospitals.

“It’s a really fun experience, and is a great head start for me before I enter college to become an RN. By the time I finish college, I will already have four years of working experience in a nursing home, which will look really good on job applications and will more than likely get me hired a lot faster than most nursing students coming out of college,” Blockinger said.

To guarantee safety for students and instructors, the program decided to go with a hybrid model. 

In this plan, the class meets once a week for skills training before their clinicals. Online, there is a discussion board about their readings. The class is also divided into cohorts, so that only one half meets at a time. 

“It’s hard to social distance when we have to practice skills on each other, so we do the best we can to make sure our hands are clean, wiping down surfaces once we are done, changing out our gloves and always making sure we are wearing masks,” Blockinger said. 

The program does a good job simulating what the students will be doing in a medical setting.

“They make sure there’s no unnecessary work to do. Everything we do has a clear purpose,” said Blockinger.

One struggle for students was following the Covid protocols. In order to pass clinicals, Blockinger and her classmates had to practice skills that they will be doing in hospitals and nursing homes. 

In order to do that, they would take turns practicing skills like washing feet, feeding, and taking blood pressure on each other. What nurses used to take for granted, now needs to be practiced with safety protocols.

“For my class, we aren’t on the regular FCC campus. We are at the Monroe Center, which is a little bit away from the main campus. At this building we get a huge class room filled with everything we need to simulate what would be in a nursing home,” said Blockinger. “It feels really different because everyone taking the class are different ages. The only high school-aged people in my class are me and another senior from Oakdale.”  The Monroe Center is located near the Frederick Airport and the Frederick Fairgrounds.

Sometimes the workload and busy schedule would tire her out.

“Right now I’m only taking two Linganore classes, then I have my FCC class twice a week,” Blockinger said. “Some days it can be really tough, though, I’ll start my Linganore classes at 8:30 and have those classes till 12 and try to finish most of my work before I have to leave for my nursing class at 5 and that class will end around 9:30. So by the end of the day I’m really beat.”

Blockinger says she has always been very compassionate and caring towards others, both with animals and people.

“Growing up, I always thought I wanted to be a vet, but until recently and really looking into nursing I found that being a nurse would better suit the lifestyle I want, and the goals I have of helping others” Blockinger said.

Blockingers parents have been able to see first hand how she has been tackling her responsibilities as a learning student in nursing.

“She’s definitely been working her hardest. We see all the giant textbooks she has to read and study. And some of the things she has to learn and actually understand are difficult concepts to grasp. But to her, she understands and loves it all,” said Dan Blockinger. “The effort that goes into these classes is no joke. She has to memorize many skills for her clinicals. Remembering every step and doing it flawlessly comes with serious concentration and hard work.”

All of her hard work has made Blockingers parents overjoyed and proud.

“She’s always been a natural caregiver and seeing her already making a huge step towards her goal makes us very proud,” said Chris Blockinger.